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County health department cleared kids with negative tests to return to in-person learning Thursday

Lynden Christian High School students returned to school on Thursday, almost a week earlier than expected.

All of Lynden Christian’s schools closed Sept. 29 for two weeks due to a high number of COVID-19 cases.

“Lynden Christian High School was able to return to school this week after our closure last week,” LC Superintendent Paul Bootsma said in a press release. “Our two-week closure was changed to a seven-day closure for our high school students who had a documented negative test within 48 hours of their return to class.”

Bootsma said LC was consulting with the Whatcom County Health Department on the matter because case rates in the high school were lower than in preschool through eighth grade.

“If students have a negative test and we implement preventive measures, we can minimize the risk of transmission, keep a healthy environment, and give students the benefits of in-person learning,” Bootsma said.

K-8 students are set to return to school Oct. 13.

The Whatcom County Health Department said in a press release Friday that it concurs with LC’s decision and that it was made in conjunction with the health department. A testing site was set up outside at Lynden Christian High School this week so students could get tested and cleared to return to school.

“In the past week, the health department has tested hundreds of teachers and students to clear them from quarantine,” said Dr. Amy Harley, co-health officer for Whatcom County. “As part of our work with Lynden Christian Schools, we considered the relatively lower number of cases in the high school as well as the school’s efforts and renewed commitment to prevention and mitigation measures, including universal masking. Given the particular circumstances, the shorter quarantine period was appropriate.”

Harley spoke to the health benefits of in-person learning and said the health department appreciates the school’s hard work to ensure a safe return for LC high schoolers.